Today, the United States commemorates the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on Open Skies, and the role it has played in providing peace and stability for Euro-Atlantic relations.
The Treaty was signed in Helsinki, Finland during a Summit meeting of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) in 1992.
The United States was among 27 signatory nations for the conventional arms control Treaty.
The Treaty was especially designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants a direct role in gathering information about military forces and activities.
The Treaty also enhances transparency by affording each State Party the opportunity to overfly the territory of other States Parties using sensor-equipped observation aircraft.
According to the US State Department, the observation flights provide a platform for confidence and security-building that reduces the probability of misunderstanding and regional tensions.
Currently, the Treaty has 34 member states and have successfully conducted more than 835 observation flights over each other’s territory.
The concept of “mutual aerial observation” was initially proposed by President Eisenhower in 1955 as a bilateral arrangement with the Soviet Union to ensure that neither side was engaged in offensive preparations or destabilizing measures, US State Department Office stressed.
The United States remains committed to maintain the viability of the Treaty by enhancing transparency, employing new imaging technologies, and strengthening international cooperation through the effective and efficient implementation of the Treaty’s confidence building measures.
The US says the Open Skies Treaty continues to be one of the most successful and valuable arms control regimes.
On March 2011, United States today celebrated the negotiation of agreements between the US and 100 Open Skies partners.
The Treaty on Open Skies, entered-into-force on January 1, 2002. 34 nations has exercised its treaty rights in having conducted a number of observation flights over other states, including the Russian Federation, Belarus, Croatia, Georgia, Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The agreement allow citizens to cross great distances, but also to open up markets, create jobs, allow people in far -removed countries to interact, share information, and build businesses together.
Today, the U.S. has agreements with countries in every region of the world, from major economies, such as Japan, Canada and the European Union, to smaller but equally important countries such as El Salvador and Senegal.
Open Skies agreement has powerful benefits – fewer government restrictions, more competition, more jobs in the air and on the ground; more people trading, exchanging and interacting; cheaper flights, more tourists, and new routes to new cities.